In 30-plus years of law practice, I won’t say I’ve heard every excuse but I’ve sure heard my share. So I thought it might be interesting to share some of these excuses and my thoughts in response to them.
“I’m superstitious. I’m afraid that if I do my estate plan, something will happen to me.” The client who told me this put off setting up his estate plan for many years but when he finally did let me set it up for him, he lived another 10-plus years and died in his mid-80’s. So much for superstition!
“I’m going to wait until the kids are grown and out of the house.” Well, for the kids’ sake, I hope nothing happens in the meantime. Having underage children at home is one of the more compelling reasons to set up an estate plan.
“It’s depressing. I don’t want to think about death and all of that stuff.” None of us want to think about these issues but not thinking about them can be an even bigger “downer.” The great thing about getting your plan in order is that once it’s done, you have peace of mind and you don’t have to think about it anymore.
“I’m in good health so I don’t need to do anything right now. If something happens, I’ll get it done.” Do I really have to respond to this one? Doing one’s estate planning is best done before there’s an issue. In fact, sometimes once there’s an issue (illness, incapacity or death), then it’s too late.
“I can’t afford to hire a lawyer to prepare my estate documents.” Actually, you can’t afford not to do this…the result of not having your plan in place will result in far more expense. And that cost may be dumped on your family and loved ones. And the truth is, you’d probably be surprised that there are experienced estate lawyers who will prepare your plan without charging an exorbitant amount.
“I ‘sort of’ have a plan…I downloaded documents off of a website.” I include this among the excuses because it is almost as bad as having nothing in place. In fact, it may be worse since it may give a false sense of security. What the “do-it-yourself” method lacks is the advice pertaining to the plan and the customization of the documents. Just because you can learn about setting up an estate plan on the internet, that does not suggest you should go it alone. There are websites that show how to do an appendectomy…but would you do one on yourself or a loved one?
“I’ve been meaning to do it but I just never seem to get around to it.” Ever heard the old expression: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Don’t fall into that trap. We find time for far less important things. Why not make it a top priority to get your estate plan in place?